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'Free' Thinker: Tuncore's Jeff Price

NEW YORK (Hypebot) – As part of a week long exploration into the meaning and value of "free", Hypebot asked some of the music industry's most forward thinkers about the value and future of free music and it's place in helping the industry return to profitability. Here Jeff Price, the CEO and founder of discount flat free digital distributor Tunecore responds:

"1) I don't believe "free is here to stay", as "free" was always here.

Labels always gave away music for free – either via mailing promo CDs, handing out free cassingles or CDs at gigs, giving away music for free to radio stations, retail stores or other outlets, giving away free music videos to MTV or other outlets, free master use placement, bundling giveaway CDs with cereal or other products etc.

Not to mention bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish.

Free giveaway of music was, and still is, an important part of any marketing and promotion campaign. The change that has occurred is a music fan can now get any song they want for free, not just the ones being authorized.

2) I disagree strongly with the statement that the industry is not profitable – it is. In just one month, bands and digital only labels are generating tens of thousands of dollars, recouping their costs more quickly and making a healthy profit on top. Revenue is being generated from MUSIC SALES in unprecedented amounts allowing labels and artists to have real careers and earn significant annual income.

It has never been like this before, and it’s amazing. More money is being generated and more companies and people are making money from it than ever before.

In addition, overhead costs and risk is way down (no: co-ops, returns, up front manufacturing costs, distribution fees, print or radio ad costs, banner ad costs etc. The costs of music recording and production are also way down).

This is not hyperbole, this is empirical data based on the sales of TuneCore customers. All that being said, traditionally record labels make people famous and then monetize that fame. The question should be how can revenue be generated off the fame. One significant way is by doing what TuneCore is doing,